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27 August 2020
Following the latest review of the Welsh coronavirus restrictions regulations on 21 August 2020, the First Minister confirmed that up to four households will be able to join together in Wales to form a larger, extended household. This will allow more family members and close friends who have been separated during the pandemic to reconnect. It also aims to support caring arrangements, for example by helping working parents with informal childcare.
The First Minister also emphasised that conditions do not yet allow the easing of general restrictions on people meeting indoors. People are still not permitted to visit someone else’s home indoors unless they are part of their extended household or they are providing care. This also means that people should only visit indoor businesses/premises – such as pubs or restaurants – with members of their own household/extended household. People from different households are able to meet outdoors provided physical distancing is maintained. The First Minister said:
The scientific and medical advice continues to show the level of coronavirus transmission in Wales remains low. However, the rise in cases we can see in other parts of the UK and further afield continues to remind us that the threat from the virus has not gone away. We are learning the lessons from those places, which indicates people meeting indoors remains a significant risk.
What do the current regulations and guidance say?
The guidance says that up to four, separate households can join together to form an extended household. This extended household could be made up of two existing extended households (each of two households), or four separate households (who aren’t already part of an extended household) joining together.
Extended households can be cross-border, for example, a household in Wales can join with a household in England. However, the Welsh Government has said the arrangements will need to comply with the rules in both countries.
What about friends and family who aren’t part of your extended household?
The regulations provide members of an extended household with the same legal freedoms as people living in individual households (for example being able to meet indoors, have physical contact and stay in each other’s homes). Friends and family who aren’t part of the same extended household are still largely restricted to meeting in outdoor settings.
Key messages about common social situations and activities
Visiting someone’s home – You can visit someone who isn’t part of your own household/extended household in their garden but not inside their home. Guidance recognises that you might need to pass through someone’s home to reach the outdoor space. You should avoid using toilet or other facilities inside the house if possible.
Pubs and restaurants – You should only visit pubs or restaurants indoors with members of your own household or extended household. You can eat or drink outdoors with up to 30 people from outside your household/extended household as long as you maintain physical distancing.
Weddings and funerals – You can go to a wedding/civil partnership ceremony or funeral if invited. The number of people able to attend will depend on the venue’s capacity once physical distancing measures have been taken into account. Limited indoor receptions/gatherings for up to 30 people following a wedding, civil partnership or funeral may now take place.
Holidays – Currently you should only go on holiday with members of your own household/extended household.
Care homes – The Welsh Government has indicated that if conditions allow, indoor visits to care homes may be permitted from 29 August 2020, subject to strict guidance.
Children – The restrictions on people meeting indoors apply to children as well as adults. Children should not visit indoor premises together (e.g. shops, cinemas, amusement arcades) unless they are from the same household/extended household. When meeting and playing outdoors, children are not expected to rigidly follow physical distancing guidance and stay two metres apart.
Obviously, when schools reopen then far greater numbers of children will be mixing indoors. The Welsh Government remains committed to reopening schools in September. The First Minister said:
All the easements we make to restrictions have a cumulative effect on transmission rates and the headroom we have available. We will use the headroom we have to ensure children can resume their education next month.
The above information reflects the situation in Wales at the time of writing. The rules on extended households and meeting with family and friends vary across the UK, as summarised below. A key message throughout the UK is that physical distancing should be observed when meeting people from outside your own extended household/bubble.
|Extended households/support bubbles |
Wales – Up to four households can form an extended household
England – Single adult households can form an exclusive ‘support bubble’ with one other household
Scotland – Two households can form an extended household (currently advised for people who live alone and/or people who are in a relationship but don’t live with their partner)
Northern Ireland – People who live alone can form a support bubble with one other household
|Socialising indoors (e.g. at a pub/restaurant) |
Wales – Only with your own (extended) household
England – Up to two households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household)
Scotland – Up to three households
Northern Ireland – Up to six people from two households
|Socialising outdoors |
Wales – Up to 30 people
England – Up to six people from different households or up to two households
Scotland – Up to five households, no more than 15 people in total
Northern Ireland – Up to 15 people
For further information on the rules elsewhere in the UK see:
- UK Government guidance on meeting people from outside your household;
- the Scottish Government’s guidance on seeing friends and family; and
- the Northern Ireland Executive’s family and community guidance.
Article by Philippa Watkins, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament
We’ve published a range of material on the coronavirus pandemic, including a post setting out the help and guidance available for people in Wales and a timeline of Welsh and UK governments’ response.
You can see all our coronavirus-related publications by clicking here. All are updated regularly.